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Regulation, customer protection and customer engagement


  • Littlechild, S.


The UK utility regulation framework developed in the 1980s was intended to improve on the restrictive, inefficient and burdensome regulatory approach in the US. But the UK regulatory process has itself now become increasingly burdensome. Meanwhile, utilities and customer groups in the US and Canada have developed methods of negotiating and settling regulatory issues that more directly reflect the interests of customers, often embody incentive price caps as in the UK, and avoid unduly burdensome regulatory processes. There is now scope for UK regulators to learn from overseas. This paper summarises these developments. It then examines how three UK utility regulators – the CAA, Ofgem and Ofwat - are responding to them. Briefly, the CAA has moved firmly in this direction, but Ofgem and Ofwat have nominally rejected it while seeking to secure many of the benefits of the approach via a less committed process. There is scope for governments to encourage a regulatory approach that offers the prospect of better outcomes for customers and a less onerous process for all concerned.

Suggested Citation

  • Littlechild, S., 2011. "Regulation, customer protection and customer engagement," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1142, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1142

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Doucet, Joseph & Littlechild, Stephen, 2006. "Negotiated settlements: The development of legal and economic thinking," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 266-277, December.
    2. Stephen Littlechild, 2009. "Stipulated settlements, the consumer advocate and utility regulation in Florida," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 96-109, February.
    3. Littlechild, Stephen, 2009. "The bird in hand: Stipulated settlements in the Florida electricity sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 276-287, September.
    4. Doucet, Joseph & Littlechild, Stephen, 2009. "Negotiated settlements and the National Energy Board in Canada," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4633-4644, November.
    5. Stephen Littlechild, 2008. "Some Applied Economics of Utility Regulation," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 43-62.
    6. Littlechild, Stephen, 2012. "The process of negotiating settlements at FERC," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 174-191.
    7. Stephen Littlechild, 2008. "Some Alternative Approaches To Utility Regulation," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 32-37, September.
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    More about this item


    Negotiated settlements; constructive engagement; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L9 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities

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